Is reincarnation real?

Reincarnation is the idea that people have been born as many different beings throughout the course of their soul’s journey and may continue to be reborn until reaching enlightenment or heaven. Swedenborg did not directly address this idea in his published writings–which inspired our churches’ beliefs– however, reincarnation is an idea that a number of Swedenborgians (and those fond of Swedenborg) hold.

Some people have experienced what seems like past life memories, others may know ‘old souls’, and other people learned of reincarnation through Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and more. In these religions reincarnation is described as the journey that all beings go through to reach a mature level of compassion and wisdom and to transcend or enter a heavenly abode. For many the idea of reincarnation is obvious, but does that mean heaven and hell don’t exist? Is reincarnation something Christian religions cannot believe in? 

The idea of heaven and hell (a favorite topic of Swedenborg) is not considered at odds with reincarnation. Swedenborg’s idea of the spiritual realm has many levels and paths toward a closer connection with God and others. Perhaps reincarnation allows hell-bent spirits to remake their ways! Indeed, there are passages in Swedenborg’s early unpublished spiritual writings that some believe directly relate the reincarnation of angels, and the Sikhs and Buddhists often describe having to restart the reincarnation journey from the bottom as “hell.” 

Ultimately, reincarnation fits well with Swedenborg’s theology, as Swedenborg believed in a God of mercy and infinite forgiveness. Indeed, all life and being originates and is rooted in God (otherwise it wouldn’t exist), and so it makes sense that hell would not necessarily be the end of the road and that reincarnation might be a way for spiritual renewal. Swedenborg believed that even those in heaven undergo changes of spiritual state at times, growing, learning, and living, perhaps this includes additional earthly lives. Along these lines, early in his spiritual explorations Swedenborg wrote, “I was told that it had been resolved in the society that I was to become a member, as it were an immortal, which no one had ever been before, unless he had died and lived [again]; others said that there were several [in that state].” (Journal of Dreams, 243) No matter what, God seems to be always striving to allow us to let go of our suffering and destructive tendencies to find the heaven that is always at our core.

Meet Rev. Cory Coberforward

Rev. Cory works with the our online community, Spiritual Sunshine, and the Church of the Good Shepherd in Canada. He loves playing music, exploring spiritual topics, being spontaneous, and connecting with others.

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